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Akinola stays away from ACC meeting

THE ATMOSPHERE at the annual meeting of the joint standing committee of the Primates and the Anglican Consultative Council (ACC) in Canterbury this week was described as “open, honest and reconciling”, despite the boycott of the meeting by the Archbishop of Nigeria, the Most Revd Peter Akinola.

Archbishop Akinola refused to attend because the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States (ECUSA), the Most Revd Frank Griswold, was present. The Episcopal Synod of Central Africa condemned ECUSA’s consecration of Bishop Gene Robinson in November as “desperately sinful”.

Archbishop Akinola, an elected member of the ACC, was not available for comment this week. But in a statement emailed to the Anglican Communion he said that his attendance at the meeting would have undermined the Nigerian Church’s position. The general secretary of the Church of Nigeria, the Ven. Oluranti Odubogun, described the Archbishop as “baffled that the Anglican Communion Office [ACO] continues to act as if what ECUSA did does not really matter”.

The Rt Revd John Paterson, Primate of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia, who chairs the ACC, said on Tuesday that the very clear message of what he described as “this very representative group” was that the work of the ACO must continue.

“It is also clear that the joint standing committee supports fully the process of the Lambeth Commission, and hopes that all will allow the Commission’s work to take its course,” he said. “The atmosphere here in Canterbury is open, honest and reconciling. The heart of the Communion is solid, and it thrills me that all the provinces are paying their share to keep the ACO operation going.”

The meeting does not have the status of a Primates’ Meeting, and only the ACC members can vote. The only items confirmed as being on the agenda on Tuesday were a budget report from the Primate of All Ireland, Dr Robin Eames; the location and financing of the Lambeth Conference and possible Anglican Gathering in 2008 in South Africa; and the process of appointing a new secretary general to succeed Canon John Peterson on his retirement.

The Archbishop of Central Africa, the Most Revd Bernard Malango, is at the meeting, which culminates in the blessing of the new Anglican Communion office today. Archbishop Malango, under attack by parishioners in Harare for his silence over the activities of the pro-Mugabe Bishop, the Rt Revd Nolbert Kunonga, is reported this week to have warned Anglican bishops against getting involved in politics, because it was contrary to mission.
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